By Tom Hurley | @TomHurleyKernel
Top-ranked Vanderbilt arrived in Lexington on Friday with 42 wins in 48 games.
Two days later, the Commodores boarded the bus back to Nashville with the SEC regular season title after earning a three-game series sweep against UK at Cliff Hagan Stadium.
Vandy’s offense stole nine bases and scored 26 runs on 38 hits to help the Commodores to their 43rd, 44th, and 45th wins of the season.
“They all stroke the ball,” UK junior infielder J.T. Riddle said. “They’re a great offensive club.”
The Cats held a 1-0 lead entering the fourth inning of the series opener, which was played as part of a doubleheader on Saturday after rain forced a postponement on Friday, courtesy of a home run from sophomore infielder Max Kuhn.
Ten runs over the next two innings saw the Cats trailing by nine runs when they loaded the bases with zero outs in the bottom of the sixth.
A sacrifice fly from freshman outfielder Kyle Barrett allowed Riddle to score from third for the Cats lone run of the inning.
Vanderbilt added an 11th run in the seventh inning before the Cats once again loaded the bases with zero outs in the ninth.
An RBI-single from freshman catch Greg Fettes saw the Cats get one run back, but they were unable to make any more advances into Vandy’s lead, going down 11-3.
UK struck first in game two as Reida hit his second RBI-single of the day in the second inning to score Riddle and hand the Cats a 1-0 lead.
Two runs in the top of the third inning saw Vandy take the lead themselves, adding to it in the sixth inning with another run to make it a 3-1 ball game.
Riddle crossed the plate in the bottom of the sixth inning to half the deficit following a passed ball and a sacrifice bunt from Kuhn.
Vandy senior outfield Mike Yastrzemski hit a two-RBI double in the top of the seventh to restore the visitors’ two run advantage.
UK loaded the bases with one out in the bottom of the ninth, getting one run back when junior infielder Paul McConkey capitalized on a wild pitch to score from third.
However, the Cats could not plate any further runners and ultimately fell, 5-3.
The freshman pitching trio of Kyle Cody, Ryne Combs and Zach Stecker combined to ensure every pitch thrown by a Cat in the game came from the arm of a first-year player.
Vandy wrapped-up the sweep on Sunday with a 10-5 win to hand the Cats their 16th loss in 22 games.
Kuhn hit a tw0-run home run in the fourth inning before sophomore first baseman A.J. Reed tied the game at 5-5 with a solo home run in the fifth.
The Commodores then score five runs over the next three innings to secure the victory.
UK (28-22, 10-17 SEC) plays its last home game of the regular season on Tuesday when it hosts No. 14 Indiana.
First pitch is scheduled for 6:30 p.m.